Fandom: Life on Mars
Word Count: 2111 words.
Notes/Prompt: This is for the first ever Life on Mars ficathon. The prompt was "Sam & Gene friendship, gen fic, Sam getting a car." Thanks to scidazzle for beta-reading this for me and holding my hand during research. This fic is for xwingace.
“Bleeding hell, Tyler. What on God’s sweet earth is that?”
“A brand new Aston Martin V8. Series 2. Isn’t it just the most gorgeous car you’ve ever seen?”
Gene Hunt’s answer was quick and flat.
He stuck his arms across his chest as he looked at Sam, who was grinning like an idiot and waving his own arms about, pointing at various objects on the monstrosity before them. The air intake on the bonnet was open, though quite low. The rear window had horizontal louvers cut in to it. The body of the car was by no means smooth and sleek, but it held a certain appeal invisible to Gene at that current moment in time.
The paintwork shone a deep blue, like the sky just after dusk. The interior was a rich leathery black. The vehicle itself looked like it was ready to eat up any who got in its path. And it was most definitely attracting the attention of passers by.
“Oh, come on. Just look at these 7 inch quartz iodine headlamps and that glorious black mesh grill.”
“Ugly as sin.”
“Oh, no they’re not. They’re fabulous. Even you have to admit that.”
“I do not have to admit any such thing.”
“But just look at them. Look at it!”
“Kindly shut your gob.”
It was the weekend. They were outside Sam’s block of flats. Gene had come to pick Sam up for a day of informant checking before he’d been waylaid by a distracting shiny object.
“I’ve wanted one of these since I was a kid.”
“Well, now I know you’re mad. These weren’t around when you were a kid. I know you think of yourself as a bright young upstart, and you sometimes appear to have been born yesterday, but you are, in fact, far too old to have wanted a load of crap like this ‘since you were a kid’. Get a clue-like.”
“You know what I meant!” Sam was clearly exasperated. He kept brushing his hands through his hair and glaring from Gene to the car, back to Gene again, as if in an attempt to infect Gene with wonderment at a ton of steel and aluminium composite.
“Haven’t the foggiest. Now, be a good lad and do as I say. Shut it. You are giving me a pounding headache and I haven’t even had my daily chip butty.”
Sam acted as if Gene hadn’t said a word. He continued to speak, his voice rising higher and higher as he came to the end of the sentence.
“And it doesn’t just look good. It runs like magic too. It’s got a Bosch mechanical fuel injection system. It can go a top speed of approximately 160 miles per hour and it goes zero to 60 miles per hour in under 6 seconds.”
“That’d be reckless endangerment, that would.”
“Well, you’re hardly one to talk, are you? Pissing around like a headless turkey at all hours of the night and day.”
“Oy. Only in the name of duty.”
Gene gave Sam an affectionate clip around the ear. It might have been affectionate, but he still sent Sam flying two feet further towards the car. The younger man knelt down by the front grill, patting the bonnet and looking at Gene with a strange glow in his eyes.
“There were some problems with the fuel injection, but I expect I could sort through them okay. I just need to know what to look for. Had all of the magazines and even an old manual at one stage, so I don’t think it’ll give me much trouble.”
“There you are, speaking about it as a thing of the past again. You really have to stop yourself doing that, Tyler. Gives me gas.”
Sam shook his head and stood up again. He wandered back towards Gene and kicked his foot idly about.
“You just don’t get it, do you?”
“Er. I think the appropriate answer at this moment would be ‘no’,” Gene replied. He paused for a moment, looking from the suddenly dejected Sam back to the car. His eyes met Sam’s once more. “No.”
“You’ve got your Ford Cortina. I wanted a car of my own.”
“I wanted a cool car. A fast car.”
“I don’t know. I thought you’d be… impressed, or something.”
“How much did this thing cost you, Sam?” Gene spoke to Sam as that of a mentor, a benevolent wise friend who didn’t often make lewd jokes about his sexuality and punch him in the head.
“…then there’s the £330 purchase tax. And £5 petrol.”
“And how, exactly, could you afford all of that with the pitiful wages you receive? You’re not as straight as you’re always making out, are you? Bent as a banana, you are.” A grin flitted across Gene’s features.
“Oh, please. You wish. I’ve been saving.”
“There are better things to save for, Sam.” This time, Gene shifted his weight from one foot to the other. He sounded genuinely remonstrative. Protective.
“Says you. Don’t suppose you’d like to go for a spin anyway? Lack of fascination not withstanding.”
Gene looked reluctant. He stared at his shoes and shuffled his feet about. He stuck his hands in his pockets. He didn’t see the slight movement of Sam’s jaw. He finally spoke.
“Give over. If I am getting in that car with you, I want some insurance.”
“You mean assurance.”
“I mean insurance. I want at least five quid and the knowledge that you’ll be buying me a beer from Nelson later on.”
“I’m always buying you beer. Fine, fine. Hop in. Mind the upholstery.”
Gene scowled as Sam skipped to the driver’s side door. He slowly travelled towards the passenger side and heaved himself into the car with a barely disguised grunt. The seat felt stiff and uncompromising. He looked about the inside for something to hold onto, but he couldn’t make out anything worth hanging onto for dear life.
When the car started, he gazed out of the window and saw two men staring at him appreciatively. Or perhaps they were looking at the car. Either way, he didn’t like the expression on their faces. He wound down the window.
“You two can sod off!” floated in the air as the Aston Martin V8 Series 2 set off down the road.
“Just listen to this baby purr.”
“Roar, more like. It’s a right racket, Tyler.”
“You’re just jealous!”
“If I were ‘just jealous’, I’d cut off my hand and feed it to Litton.”
“He might enjoy that.” Sam steered the car at high speed into a narrow road with barely contained glee.
“I don’t doubt he would, dodgy bastard. ‘Ey up, slow down a bit, I’ve already told you I haven’t eaten yet, and what with that and having to listen to you rave on for half hour, I’m bloody queasy.”
“You’ll survive. Shall we go visit the station?”
“No. You used the term spin. I assumed you meant around the block.”
“I could have meant around the world.”
“Explain to me again why I ever thought it was a good idea I consort with you outside of regular working hours.”
“Ahh. You couldn’t resist. You like my charm, my grace, my constant quest for justice…”
“Your raving insanity.”
Sam continued to speed around. The streets soared by in a kaleidoscope of colour. Even though he still scowled, Gene started to enjoy the car ride. He really did like pissing around at top speed all hours of the night and day. Plus, Gene had to hand it to him, Sam did not appear to be the world’s worst driver. Maybe the Aston Martin really wasn’t the devil incarnate in metallic form.
The car was a smooth ride full of latent power. It only took another four minutes to get to the station. Chris was already outside when they pulled up to the kerb, off to get himself something to eat. He laughed when he saw them step out of the car and then clapped his hands maniacally.
“That is, without a doubt, the most magnificent beast I have ever seen.”
Gene took it back. The Aston Martin had to go.
“He bought it from a young lady whose name was Chantelle. I believe she liked to dance.”
“Really, Guv?” Chris asked, open mouthed.
“No, Chris. It’s brand new,” Sam interjected, looking at Gene with narrowed eyes.
“How’d you afford it?”
“He saved,” Gene repeated. “Brainpower.”
“Is Annie about?” Sam asked.
“No, she knocked off an hour ago. Had the afternoon free, lucky bag. Why? Were you planning on driving her somewhere? Can I come too?”
“Erm. Maybe not this time, Chris. I’m still finding my feet with it, you know. Don’t want to endanger any more lives than I desperately need to.”
Gene thumped him this time, good and proper, but all Sam did was laugh.
“Best be getting back to your precious Cortina so we can go do some work, eh?”
“It’d be nice, yeah.”
Chris waved goodbye somewhat wistfully as they drove away again, this time with smoke billowing out of the exhaust. After an impressive start, however, Sam started to drive like a normal, law-abiding citizen. If not considerably safer than your average law-abiding citizen. Gene broke the silence which had once more stretched between them.
“I want to ask you something. It’s a bit personal-like.”
“That’s never stopped you before. Go ahead.” Sam flipped the indicator and they turned the corner.
“Why’s it so important to you that you have this car? Why’s it so important that I like this car?”
“Because. After my dad left I had football and cars to rely upon, and that’s it. Football and cars. My whole identity is made up of worshipping United and a 1973 Aston Martin V8 with a 310-320 brake horse power output and 360 pound per foot of torque.”
“Don’t forget your unswerving desire to establish righteous justice, even to the detriment of your fellow officers.”
“… I wanted you to understand that in some way. To be able to know it and accept it, and, I don’t know, perhaps… help me, or something.”
“If you say anything to the effect of me being a father figure to you I swear I will vomit all over your brand new upholstery, and on your jacket too, just for good measure.”
“You’re not a father figure, Gene. You’re a friend.”
“And there I was thinking we were sworn enemies.” The vehicle came to a halt. Gene turned slightly in his car seat. “I can’t help you, Sam. Not in this situation. You can only help yourself.”
Sam tapped his fingers on the steering wheel and cricked his neck to one side. His voice was quiet when he replied.
“I thought I was.”
There was silence for a short while before Gene opened the car door and spoke again.
“Right. I’m driving the Cortina. Your greasy mitts will go nowhere near my car keys, understand?”
“My greasy mitts don’t want to go anywhere near your car keys anyway, Hunt. Who knows where they’ve been?”
“I’ve upgraded that beer to a beer and chip butty.”
“And the five quid?” Sam climbed out of the car and stretched his legs.
“Keep it. You’ll need it at the rate you’re spending up.”
“So we’re not checking on the informants, then?”
“Priorities, Tyler. It’s lunchtime.” Gene went to usher Sam to the Ford Cortina but he stopped and turned them both around to take a final look at the Aston Martin before the jaunt to the pub.
“At least now you won’t be complaining about how you have to constantly rely upon my driving every five minutes. And it’s a bit like you, really, innit? You first look at it and you think that is, without a doubt, the absolute worst specimen of its kind I have ever seen. And then you spend more time with it, learn its ins and outs, and you have to come to the conclusion it’s really not that bad after all.”
“Just like how you look at a Ford Cortina and think all it has to offer is a truly crap exterior, but once you get inside, you realise it’s marginally less crud than you’d previously thought.”
“I’m upgrading to three rounds of beers, a chip butty and a packet of smoky bacon crisps. Just so you know.”
“I think I’ll save up next to get you your own Aston Martin V8. Bright pink. With streamers.”
“You do that. I’m saving up to get you committed.”